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Is Shyamalan’s Box Office Run Over?

'Knock at the Cabin' scores less than 'M3GAN,' 'Smile,' 'Black Phone' and 'Old'

M. Night Shyamalan’s career has more ups and downs than the elevator in his 2010 thriller, “Devil.”

The director’s “Sixth Sense” and “Signs” proved box office smashes, but subsequent duds like “Lady in the Water,” “The Happening” and “The Last Airbender” made him a punchline.

The Happening 2008 Trailer HD | Mark Wahlberg | Zooey Deschanel

His 2017 film “Split,” a surprise sequel to his 2000 film “Unbreakable,” restored his creative credibility.

He always draws a crowd, though. Even his much-derided 2004 thriller “The Village” opened to $50 million en route to a healthy $114 million at the U.S. box office.

That Shyamalan magic may be slipping.

His 2021 thriller “Old,” which sported a terrific trailer, earned $16.8 million during its opening frame en route to a modest $48 million. The director’s latest effort, “Knock at the Cabin,” couldn’t match that humble start.

The film, starring Dave Bautista as a home intruder asking a family to make the ultimate sacrifice, scored just $14.2 million against tepid competition.

Knock at the Cabin - Official Trailer

The other big new film over the weekend? “80 for Brady,” a slight sports comedy starring four legendary actresses hamming it up around NFL great Tom Brady.

The audiences for the films hardly overlap.

It’s not as if the horror genre is struggling at the moment. Last year proved a bonanza for the genre, with sleeper smashes (“Smile,” “Terrifier 2”), sequels (“Halloween Ends”) and originals (“Barbarian”) scoring big at the box office.

On paper, Shyamalan’s shtick should be catnip for modern audiences. His films typically serve up sizzling trailers, a necessity in our noisy media age. They’re bracingly original, which plays well with the horror faithful who are open to fresh tales.

Even better?

The director has resisted both the woke siren song and politically charged rhetoric.


He recently told Variety that he’d rather score a big audience than land his first Oscar trophy. That kind of populism is rare and refreshing.

So what changed?

Have audiences tired of his brand of storytelling? Film Threat’s Chris Gore noted recently that Shyamalan’s movies are like feature-length “Twilight Zone” episodes, for better and worse.

Do crowds crave instant gratification in our TikTok age, and they’ve lost interest in slow-burn thrillers.

“Knock at the Cabin” reminds us how sturdy a storyteller Shyamalan can be. His eagerness to plow fresh material is similarly welcome.

There’s still hope for his dwindling fan base.

The director shrewdly keeps his budgets low these days, understanding that gives him more creative freedom while putting less pressure on his investors.

That may be the key to keeping his career afloat moving forward.


  1. The problem I find with his movies is that they feel like they are all trying to land the same ‘surprise’ of Sixth Sense. They are all centered on a twist ending that if you see it coming or it’s not a big enough surprise you feel let down. The idea of going to see one of his movies in a theater doesn’t make sense. He would be a much better fit for a streaming service and if he really wants to break from convention,he should try shortening these movies to 80 minutes.

  2. I can’t imagine being so hateful that I avoid art because of “Gayness”.

    Candace Cameron Bure movies make you stupid.

  3. I was excoriated by liberals for my last post in the first article about this movie, in which I stated people are tired of having gay couples jammed in their faces over and over and over again. Obviously from the other comments, I’m far from alone in that assessment.

  4. I’ll go to his film as a reward for having the guts and the sanity to stay away from the Hollyweird WOKE idiocy.

  5. I can’t believe that producers still give this talentless idiot millions to keep making these dogs. His only decent movie, and it wasn’t that good, was Sixth Sense.

  6. I think we are all sick and tired on the gay woke parents stealing every movie. Love M.Night… but will NOT watch anymore woke BS. Most of us are DONE. Next.

  7. Maybe normal Americans are tired of all the gay people in movies and tv. The concept of the movie looked interesting, but I never really considered watching it since the main “family” is two gay men. sorry not sorry

  8. I always liked M Night….the people who went to see Sixth Sense and Unbreakable and Signs about 20ish years ago now have families. And people with families and kids don’t want to watch a movie who’s entire premise is based on asking the lead characters to kill their own families, and where kids are gonna die…it’s that’s simple, really. So he’s left with half an audience for this one!

  9. OK, that movie may not have overt “woke” proselytizing, but come on…

    A gay couple with an adopted Asian daughter is just about as overt a plea of “please don’t cancel me or this movie” to the left as I can imagine. OK…I suppose they could have made one of the “dad’s” black…that would have been the trifecta…

    Shyamalan’s movies can be hit or miss…some of them I’ve absolutely loved, some I’ve hated, and a few were in between.

    This one I’m just going to take a pass on. After seeing the trailer…not interested. I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to hollywood insisting on throwing their token gay couples and relationships into every story (historians watching our movies 1,000 years from now are going to think half the world was gay during this time), but making it the focus of the story just tells me that I’m not the target audience. That’s OK. Gays want movies they can relate to…I don’t begrudge them that and if Shyamalan want’s to target his movies to a niche audience, that’s his decision to make. Plenty of other movies out there for me to watch.

    1. I think I may have seen only two movies this year. This was one of them. I liked the movie and I can tell you that it is not a “woke” movie. It is not what you may think. Give it a chance.

    2. I’m right there with you about the “gotta have something gay in a movie” these days. Hollywood seems to not be able to function without at least having some kind of reference in a movie or TV show that kisses up to the Gaystapo and it’s old, very worn out, and super cliche after about a decade or so of it.
      That being said, this movie is actually based on a book called “The Cabin at the End of the World” which was published back in 2018 or 2019. It’s written by a guy named Paul Tremblay. The book has the couple being gay. Shyamalan was actually just being faithful to the source material. Which, given how often Hollywood perverts source material these days to insert some woke BS messaging, I appreciate a movie maker sticking to the source material. Now, that being said, could be that Shyamalan chose this particular book because he could use the gay couple already in it so he could push that messaging. But considering none of his other movies have been particularly PC or “woke” I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      1. Maybe including a gay couple was an unconscious decision by the author and director? They take gay parents in their stride?

  10. I was planning a night out with friends, and this movie was on the docket. Until we watched the trailer and saw the homosexual couple with the adopted child in the lead.
    We still had the expensive meal, but we played a board game at a coffee house instead of the movie.

    1. Al,

      I have enjoyed many of Shyamalan’s movies. We thought about going to see the movie too but when I viewed the “woke” trailer we put on old reruns of “Person of Interest” at home.

      You have to hope they get the message someday. We have a lot of choices and they can’t force their viewpoint down our throat anymore.

      1. There is that. So many choices amongst older movies/TV shows on various streaming services that you can while away many, many hours without being hit with any “woke” nonsense. That’s basically what I do. Most of the stuff I watch is older shows/movies from the 50s through the early 2010s before the “woke” mind virus started affecting so many people. I do keep my eye out though for examples of non-woke stuff though, like the Top Gun sequel last year. Then I add those to my “rotation.” Some shows and movies are so well made that I can put them on in the background and enjoy them while I’m reading or doing other things around the house because I know them very well from having seen them multiple times.

      2. It actually was a very deep perspective into the state of society. It made you really take a hard look at reality of the fictitious world we are living in. It broke down obligation and got to real human feelings. It really made one look at what is your purpose and is it really to serve mankind, or are we all traumatized into feeling we owe someone else and not ourself. It basically got to the raw truth. It’s for sure is a brain f*** if your in need of one!

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